Who ever created Daylight Savings time did not have children. It truly is a double edged sword. In the Spring, it provides us with more evening light and it offsets problems with early rising. In the Fall, we “gain” an extra hour of sleep on Sunday, November 2nd, but most young children will still wake at their normal hour despite what the adjust clock says. Children who wake at 6am each and every morning will start rising at 5am until their internal clock adjusts to the new time. And if you are anyone like me, 5am is just not an acceptable hour. Thankfully, it is possible to adjust your child’s internal “clock.”
Parents have two options.
If your child is a good sleeper, then simply move meals, naps and bedtime to the new time. If your child still naps, make sure your child is well napped to account for the first few days of early rising. Expose your child to natural sunlight in the morning and the late afternoon (this helps with adults as well) and be sure to get plenty of activity outside throughout the day. Some children adjust easily with little to no problem.
This option is ideal for children who have problems with sleep, or who are a little more sensitive to changes. Move your child’s bedtime later by 15 minutes per day for 3-4 days. This gradual adjustment acclimates your child to the new bedtime in a gentle way. Be sure to expose your child to lots of natural sunlight in the morning and afternoon and make naps an absolute priority. Also move all meals, naps, and activities by 15 minutes per day as well.
With both options, consistency is the key to success. Inconsistent behavior causes more problems (and more tears) so be sure to choose an option and stick with it. Your child WILL adjust to the new bedtime and wake up time within a week. If your child still rises early (any time prior to 6am) for more than a 1-2 weeks, seek the advice of a certified sleep professional. There is no reason to accept 5am as an acceptable wake up time!